in about 100 words or less
USA 93m, sound (B&W)
Director: Mervyn LeRoy; Cast: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson
Paul Muni plays a World War I veteran who falls victim to an unjust penal system in the southern USA. After a daring escape he makes a new and very successful life for himself in Chicago as a civil engineer, that is, until his landlady and former lover finds out his true identity. After making a bargain with the “southern state” which will see him return and serve out 90 days of his nine remaining years, he is double crossed and is forced to complete his full sentence – which drives him to a second escape and forces him to live out the rest of his life as a criminal. There’s no happy resolution to this story, but rather, it served as an indictment of the sorry state of a 1930s penal system which served out injustice by way of the chain gang (Klaus Ming January 2009).